10 Ways to Be Present and Be a Better Listener

Be Present

It hard to have a conversation these days.

Everyone is so distracted.

Interruptions, multi-tasking, and technology distract us from having even the simplest of conversations.

How do you ensure that you are present when you are having a conversation?

Being Present and Ignoring Distractions

I once worked for a boss that wasn’t a good listener.

One day, I was in his office for a one-on-one meeting.

Before the meeting even got started his phone rang, and he proceeded to talk to a friend for 10 minutes while I sat there.

A few minutes into the meeting his was reading incoming emails on his computer screen.

Then, a couple of minutes later a colleague appeared in the doorway. Instead of saying he was busy, he proceeded to discuss his weekend adventures.

How would this situation make you feel?

“Don’t let the phone, interruptions, or other work take precedence over the person sitting front of you.” (Tweet this Quote)

When the conversation returned to me, he asked, “What else?”

I replied, “That’s all. I don’t have anything else.”

Of course, I didn’t feel like sharing anything else. How could I compete with all those other interruptions. It felt like anything I was saying was third-rate.

Being a Better Listener

When someone is speaking with you, they want to be heard.

Make sure you give them your full attention.

Here are 10 Ways to “Be Present” and be a better Listener:

  1. Body Language – Don’t underestimate the power of body language. What you do with your body while you are in a conversation says much more than any words. As much as 80% of what we convey in a conversation is non-verbal. Face the other person. Present an open posture. A little body language goes a long way.
  2. Listen – Listen, plain and simple. Nothing stops a conversation colder than, “Could you repeat that?” Listen like you were going to have to repeat back to them what they have told you.
  3. Acknowledge – We need signs that we are being heard. Conversation cues and acknowledgements are part of how we communicate. If you doubt this, the next time you are on a phone call simply stop making any noise while the other person is speaking. Within a few moments the other person will stop and ask, “Are you still there?”
  4. Don’t Sit Across the Desk – Sitting across the desk puts a barrier between you and who you are meeting with. Come out from behind your desk and meet. A small meeting table is always better than the “wall” that a desk presents.
  5. Make Them Your Top Priority – When you are listening to someone, don’t take calls or let someone else who walks up take precedence over the current conversation. When you are with someone, make them priority #1.
  6. Repeat, Don’t Refute – When someone is telling you their story, they aren’t looking for you to interrupt with analysis or suggestions. Hear them out. Repeat back to them what you heard. You can put on your “fix it” hat later. (Only if asked!)
  7. Don’t Do Other Work – In our busy technology driven world, it is tempting to send off that quick text or answer that email. Don’t. People can tell when you are doing something else. You may think it is a brief task, but it tells the other person that you have more important work to do. This is not the time to multi-task.
  8. Put the Cell Phone Down – We give our phones too much control over us. We jump any time they ring, beep, or buzz. So, silence your phone. Turn it off or put it in a drawer. Better yet, “Stop having an affair with your smartphone.
  9. Ask Questions – Ask questions to show that you care and that you are in the conversation. Don’t go into interrogation mode. Ask interest questions like, “What happened next?” or “How did you feel then?”
  10. Thank Them – After a conversation, say “Thank you for talking to me.” You don’t have to provide an answer or magical solution. Often, the other person just wants to be heard and acknowledged. Be there for them and just listen.

Giving Your Full Attention

When you are speaking with someone, be in the moment.

Give them your full attention. Don’t let interruptions stop the conversation.

Be present. Turn off the tech. And just listen.

You may just make the other person feel like your top priority.

Question: Do you need to be more present? How could you be a better listener? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

6 thoughts on “10 Ways to Be Present and Be a Better Listener

  1. Good tips. However, … what should one do when the conversation is unscheduled and one has work or other tasks to complete or one is already in conversation with someone else? Like most modern office workers I work in an open workspace environment with few conference rooms.

Comments are closed.